One of the most intriguing free agents-to-be for any team this off-season is Broncos tight end, Julius Thomas. The former two-sport athlete in basketball and football has all the making of a super star NFL tight end talent.
The Raiders need a big time talent and tight end. Could Julius Thomas be a possibility? Very much so.
"Everything's a possibility." Thomas said in an interview on Bay Area radio station, 95.7 the game. "I guess the Raiders would have to want me in order for negotiations to start or maybe offer me a contract. Who knows what's gonna happen..."
Thomas being a top tight end talent and the Raiders need for one is only part of this equation. A lot of teams need a good tight end. But for the Stockton native, not every team in the Raiders.
He may play for Raiders bitter rival Broncos, but that has never stopped his dad and grandpa from being season ticket holders for the past 15 years - just after the team returned to Oakland - when Thomas was nine years old. And he makes no bones about his love for the team he and his family bleed for.
"Oh yeah, I was a big time Raiders fan," said Thomas. "I went to a lot of games with my dad and my grandpa. It's a family atmosphere out there for me. I think any given Sunday I was probably averaging about 20-25 family members at those games. I always enjoyed coming back to Oakland and playing and getting to see family and spend time."
"So, I grew up down there back when it was Network Associates [Coliseum], getting to check out some football back in the Napoleon Kaufman, Jeff Hostetler days. Man, I remember them."
That love still shows itself here and there. For instance, his Twitter avatar is the picture above which shows him tossing a ball into the stands in Oakland with the Raiders symbol clearly featured.
If the Raiders want him, he likely won't come cheap. He reportedly turned down an $8 million contract offer from the Broncos last year. The Raiders have a lot of money to spend this off-season so they are one of a few teams who can afford a major cap hit for the right player(s). There's also no way of knowing at this point if Thomas merely wants more than the $8 million he was offered or just wanted to explore his free agent options first. If the Raiders were one of those options and the numbers were similar, it sounds as if he'd jump at that offer.
One of the areas Thomas has struggled with is blocking, teams won't be signing him as a blocker. He has 1277 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons despite missing eight starts.
The Raiders just hired a tight ends coach in Bobby Johnson who has offensive lineman roots. You don't hire a blocking specialist to teach receiving skills. Thomas already has those skills. Currently the Raiders have Mychal Rivera who is also not much of a blocker, but is not nearly on the same level as a receiver to Thomas.
Reggie McKenzie and Mark Davis talk a lot about players having to ‘want to be a Raider'. New head coach Jack Del Rio wanted to be a Raider. He too grew up in the Bay Area as a Raiders fans. And he faced Thomas in practice the past three seasons in Denver.
This marriage is possible so it should at very least receiver serious consideration come March.